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AmericaEU: Mealworms Now Safe for Human Consumption

EU: Mealworms Now Safe for Human Consumption

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Almost everyone who keeps pets that are not cats or dogs are familiar with the mealworms. They are great snacks for more exotic pets. However, they may no longer just be pet foods as the EU just labeled them safe for human consumption.

(Photo : Raimond Spekking via WIkimedia Commons)
Mealworms as food

European Union (EU) food safety agency declared yellow mealworm safe for human consumption. Because of the declaration, exotic food producers can now mass-produce foods and snacks made from the worms all across Europe.

The EU food safety agency came to a conclusion after following-up on an application from the French company Agronutris.

The ‘insect-for-food’ production company is tasked to lead the EU-wide approval of mealworm food production. Their goal has been to convince the market that yellow mealworm products fit supermarkets and kitchens across the continent.

After quite some time, they successfully managed to make the mealworms the first EU approved insect food.

Yellow Mealworms

Tenebrio molitor larvae, also known as a mealworm, is the larval form of a darkling beetle.

Pet food

Mealworms are commonly used as pet food for reptiles, fishes, and birds in captivity. They are great snacks for the animals because of their high protein content.

The mealworms are commonly bought by pet owners in bulk from their suppliers or any local pet shops. They had to be sold as quickly as possible because of a limited shelf time. Because if kept for a long time, the larva may grow into a fully developed beetle.

Human Consumption

Before the European Union’s declaration, a few people in the continent are already eating the worms, a handful of people really into more “exotic” kinds of cuisine.  However, they are more widely accepted and more commonly eaten in the SEA (Southeast Asian) regions.

(Photo : Photo by Moritz Bruder on Unsplash)
Woman selling insects from a street-food stand

The mealworms are edible for humans and are cooked in many variations, processed into different food items, and even eaten raw for those intense exotic foodies.

Their main components are fat, fiber, and protein.

The creepy crawlies are seen by health buffs as a more “eco-friendly low carbon emission” white meat substitute because of their nutritional value claiming that they are potential food alternatives. 

Related Article: Your Organic Meat Isn’t Helping Environment; Here’s Why

EU Approval

 “This first EFSA risk assessment of an insect as novel food can pave the way for the first EU-wide approval. Our risk evaluation is a decisive and necessary step in the regulation of novel foods by supporting policymakers in the EU in making science-based decisions and ensuring the safety of consumers,” according to Ermolaos Ververis, one of the scientific officers from the agency.

Because of Union approval, many mealworm production companies are psyched up and ready to ramp up their operations if demands start rising.

Foods made from insects are seen as an effective solution in the global goal of cutting the food industry’s greenhouse gases emission.

According to Mario Mazocchi, an economic professor at the University of Bologna, “There are clear environmental and economic benefits if you substitute traditional sources of animal proteins with those that require less feed, produce less waste and result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Lower costs and prices could enhance food security, and new demand will open economic opportunities too, but these could also affect existing sectors.”

It’s cheaper to mass-produce, and it takes a significantly lesser environmental risk. Mealworms, being considered one of the primary sources of food instead of being labeled as an exotic snack, is a massive landmark in the food industry.

Also Read: Adidas to Make Fungus-Made Shoes to Replace Leather

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